Reading Sink Sorry Ipswich in 5-1 Goal-Fest

Sa Ipswich

Now that, ladies and gentlemen, is what we have been waiting for.

Prior to Friday’s game, Reading had failed to score at home since their 1-1 draw with Cardiff back in April. You have to go back as far as the 28th January 2014 to Reading’s 5-1 home victory against Blackpool, to find a time that the Royals were able to score five goals in a single game. That day Adam Le Fondre was Reading’s hat-trick hero. On Friday night, that honour went to Orlando Sa.

The build up to this game was dominated by talk on the line-up that Steve Clarke would opt with. With several players returning from the international break shortly before Friday’s game, including Danny Williams and Michael Hector, their inclusion in the match squad was touch and go. Ultimately, Clarke only made two changes to the side that beat Brentford 3-1. Aaron Tshibola capped off a good week starting in place of Williams while Matej Vydra was handed his debut in place of Hal Robson-Kanu.

Reading got off to an impressive start and it only took eight minutes for them to take the lead. Nick Blackman was the creator with his perfectly delivered cross from the right being finished off by a high rising Sa. The Reading crowd were happy, to say the least, to finally see a home goal from their side after ten hours of waiting. Little did they know that more were to come.

The Royals’ initial lead was only to last a few minutes, however, as some scrappy defending resulted in Freddie Sears slotting the ball into an empty net. Despite several attempts to win the ball back by Paul McShane, Anton Ferdinand and Chris Gunter, Ipswich’s Ryan Fraser made it into the box before shooting towards the far corner. Jonathan Bond, who has been subject to some criticism in past games, pulled off an impressive save at close range but only into the path of an awaiting Sears.

The new striking combination of Vydra and Sa, however, were looking bright and it was some impressive link up play between the pair that resulted in Reading’s second of the evening. Vydra fed the ball into Sa, who controlled it, turned towards goal, ran past his man and unleashed a shot into the bottom corner of Dean Gerken’s net.

Reading were not having it all their own way, however, with Sears and David McGoldrick in particular threatening for Ipswich in the attacking third. Jonas Knudsen came close to equalising with his effort, but it was Sears that had the best opportunity from close range to get his second before half-time. Reading created their own chances prior to the break, with some intricate passing between Blackman, Quinn, Sa and Vydra almost paying off but the home side went in at half-time 2-1 up.

As the second half got underway, many home fans would have been optimistic of adding more to the tally. Not many, however, would have expected what was to come. Clarke opted to move Tshibola into the defensive midfielder position at this point in the game and it was this that definitely helped the home side. Ipswich were the first to create a chance, with Brett Pitman firing over the bar from the edge of the box, but it was the home side who were to add to the scoreline.

“We contrived to give five goals away. They played well, but I thought we had plenty of chances in the game too.”- Ipswich Manager Mick McCarthy

Less than five minutes after half-time, Blackman was to be rewarded for all his efforts with a well taken goal from a tight angle. The initial attempt fell to Sa but he couldn’t get his feet organised in time to have a shot on goal. After some fumbling around from Town defenders, and quick thinking from Vydra, the ball fell to Blackman whose shot hammered into the back of the net.

Now 3-1 down, Ipswich weren’t giving up just yet and continued to threaten the Reading defence. This time Fraser floated a cross into the Reading box where it was met by Pitman who headed the ball onto Bond’s crossbar. Town supporters were hoping for a penalty when Tshibola won the rebound off an awaiting McGoldrick but their almost desperate shout was waved off by the referee.

It was Reading who were to score once again, with Blackman breaking down the wing, past his opponents into the box before cutting the ball back to an awaiting Sa who calmly passed the ball in the back of the net to complete his hat-trick. Reading were now dominating and looked capable of even more.

With less than fifteen minutes of the game to go, Clarke introduced two debutants into the game. Lucas Piazon came on in place of Vydra to begin with and a minute later Ola John replaced Nick Blackman. With very little time to make a huge impact, the initial signs were promising. Both had opportunities to run at the Ipswich defence and Piazon in particular came the closest to creating another Reading goal.

“It’s a good performance, although it’s only one performance. Nine points from six games is not something to be too carried away with.”- Reading Manager Steve Clarke

It was a moment of pure class from Oliver Norwood, however, that was the cherry on top of the icing on top of the cake. The midfielder received the ball thirty yards out before unleashing a goal of the season contender into the top corner of the Ipswich net. It is hard to say whether the highlight was the goal itself or the second of disbelief that followed it (together with Piazon’s reaction), but all in all it was a performance that brought on a state of delirium amongst the home support.

While Sa will get the plaudits for his hat-trick, the first in the Championship so far this season, it was a Reading performance to be proud of from all involved. The attacking four of Sa, Vydra, Blackman and Quinn were outstanding not only with their attacking prowess but also their overall work rate. Quinn, in particular, did not stop running all evening and while I had my doubts over him playing on the wing, the Ireland international was impressive to say the least. Special mentions must also be given to Norwood and Tshibola. Both were players that must have been fearful when it came to keeping their places in the starting team, but after their performances this time out it will be difficult to leave them out in future.

What must be said is that this Ipswich team was not a weak side. Christophe Berra returned from injury in the centre of defence while the attacking duo McGoldrick and Sears in particular have impressed in recent weeks. Defensively, a usually dependable Reading back-four, also had moments of weakness. Ipswich were able to create chances, albeit many ended up wide of the mark, so it is testimony to a clinical Reading side that they were able to finish with the scoreline at 5-1.

Next up for Reading is Derby, again at the Madejski. Now the goals have returned to Berkshire, and in style, there is certainly less pressure on Clarke and the squad and everyone will be optimistic of a repeat performance on Tuesday night. Some of Reading’s players, however, should be concerned after the latest victory.

Internationals such as Williams, Hector and McCleary did not get a look in from the Reading bench while players such as Alex Fernandez and Paolo Hurtado did not even make the match squad. The Royals certainly have strength in depth but after a victory like that it will be interesting to see how many of these players get a look in on Tuesday evening. From a Reading fan’s perspective, however, having so many impressive players available can only be a good thing. After a 5-1 victory, they will also be looking forward to a home game for the first time in a long time.

Reading are back.

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